Southern Tier Primary Sees Langworthy vs. Paladino

On August 23, 2022, the state of New York will hold primaries in congressional races and State Senate races, as well as two special elections in two vacant congressional districts. In the coming weeks, Albany Update will profile key primary elections in various areas of the state.

This week, Albany Update will profile the upcoming Republican primary in New York’s newly-drawn 23rd congressional district (NY-23). This district spans the western portion of New York’s Southern Tier and a part of Erie County. Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-Orchard Park) intended to seek election in NY-23, but ended his campaign following blowback for his statement of support for a federal assault weapons ban.

The two Republican candidates for Congress in NY-23 are well-known in Republican circles statewide. One of the two candidates is New York State Republican Committee Chair Nick Langworthy. The other candidate is real estate developer and 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.

Langworthy, 41, was raised in South Dayton, New York but now resides in Niagara County. A graduate of Niagara University, Langworthy worked as a congressional staffer and campaign manager before becoming Erie County Republican chair in 2010. Langworthy served in that capacity until being selected to chair the New York State Republican Committee in 2019. Langworthy has not previously held elected office, but did serve as a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team.

Paladino, 75, was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and Syracuse University School of Law, and he served in the United States Army. A real estate developer, Paladino founded Ellicott Development Company in 1973. In 2010, during the heyday of the Tea Party movement, Paladino soundly defeated former U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio in a gubernatorial primary to become the Republican candidate for governor of New York. Paladino lost the general election to Democrat Andrew Cuomo by a wide margin. From 2013 to 2017, Paladino served on the Buffalo School Board; his tenure was marred by racially charged comments, and he was removed from office by the New York State Education Department after publicly disclosing information he learned during a confidential portion of a board meeting.

The distinctions between the candidates may be more stylistic than policy-based. Both candidates are political allies of former President Donald Trump, and both candidates are seeking President Trump’s support in this race. Also, both candidates announced that they would file lawsuits challenging New York’s recently-passed gun control law. Langworthy’s campaign website declares his support for law enforcement, border security, and the Second Amendment. Paladino is known as a full-spectrum conservative with a history of inflammatory remarks, including false claims that President Obama is a Muslim and favorable remarks about Adolf Hitler.

The NY-23 Republican primary is difficult to predict. While Paladino enjoys name recognition in western New York, his controversial history could hurt him. On the other hand, in a low-turnout election, the candidate with the most dedicated voter base could prevail.

The winner of the Republican primary in NY-23 will face Democrat Max Della Pia in November.

Also on August 23, a special election will be held in NY-23 to fill the vacancy created when Rep. Tom Reed left office earlier this year.